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History of Jonesboro, Arkansas

Jonesboro, seat of Craighead County, is the largest city in northeast Arkansas. The Jonesboro and Craighead County area was inhabited by Native Americans when the white men first arrived. Traders, voyagers, trappers, and adventurers had arrived there shortly after 1800, bartering with the Indians for furs and pelts, but there was no attempt to permanently settle prior to 1815. Jonesboro was selected as the permanent seat of justice in 1859, when the county was formed out of parts of Mississippi, Greene, and Poinsett counties. Jonesboro was named after William A. Jones in recognition of his support in the legislature for the formation of Craighead County. During the Civil War, Jonesboro was the site of a skirmish between Union and Confederate forces on August 2, 1862. In 1881, the Cotton Belt Railroad established a line that reached Jonesboro. Jonesboro also is known as the "City of Churches." The First Baptist Church and First Methodist Church are among the two oldest churches, coming to the city between 1911 and 1916. In 1909, the Arkansas legislature established a regional agricultural training school in Jonesboro. That institution flourished and expanded over the years, and later became Arkansas State University in 1967. Jonesboro was dragged into the national spotlight in 1998, when a pair of boys, aged 11 and 13, hid in the woods outside Westside Middle School and opened fire, killing four students and a teacher. St. Bernard's Medical Center admitted its first patient in 1900. The Regional Medical Center of NEA was purchased in 2003 by Triad Hospitals of Plano, Texas, and was renamed NEA Medical Center. The Jonesboro Municipal Airport serves northeast Arkansas with a 5,600-foot runway. John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury under President Harry S. Truman, was born in Jonesboro in 1895.